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Swatch Freeride World Tour Ramps Up In Revelstoke

Revelstoke by D.CARLIERThe snow has been stacking up in Revelstoke. On Jan. 11, the first stop of the Swatch Freeride World Tour by The North Face is scheduled to pop off. Photo: D.CARLIER.

The Swatch Freeride World Tour Is Ready to Go

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the Swatch Freeride World Tour by the North Face, and the action will go down on Mackenzie Peak at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Dubbed “Mac Daddy,” the face is a perfect venue for the best in the world. And, this year we actually get to see the best from all over. For years the North American-based Freeskiing World Tour and European-centric Freeride World Tour have run mutually exclusive contests during the winter, each crowning their own “World Champion” at the end of the season. This year, however, the tours have come together to create a unified world tour, aimed at pitting the best against each other and determining an indisputable World Champion in men’s and women’s big-mountain skiing and snowboarding.

The six-stop tour has handpicked venues throughout the world for big-mountain freeriding. In addition to this week’s Revelstoke comp, the FWT will stop on the Italian and French sides of the Mont Blanc in Courmayeur and Chamonix, in California’s Sierra Nevada at Kirkwood’s cliff-strewn Cirque, in the Tyrol Range where Fieberbrunn Pillerseetal exemplifies Austria’s terrain, and culminating in Switzerland at the infamous Bec de Rosses venue for the Swatch Xtreme Verbier.

Around 60 competitive big-mountain freeriders from all over the world have been posted up in Revy for about a week waiting for a weather window to run the contest. Just as the competitors started arriving, so did the snow. Upwards of three feet of snow has blanketed Revelstoke and set the “Mac Daddy” face up with insane conditions for Friday’s comp.

Among the competitors are TGR’s Griffin Post, Colter Hinchliffe and Ralph Backstrom.

Mackenzie PeakMackenzie Peak, the FWT venue, is just outside of the Revelstoke Mountain Resort Boundary. Photo via FWT.

“It has been snowing ever since we got here,” says Hinchliffe, who has been diligently icing and resting a banged up leg in the hopes of being able to compete. “Friday is supposed to be full-on bluebird, primo conditions. The fact that we’re waiting for the conditions to be right is going to make for a good show; it should be really sick.”

Post agrees: “It’s snowed probably two to three feet on the venue. If the snow locks up it should be all-time conditions.”

Relying strictly on a visual inspection — rather than being allowed to get into the venue to size-up airs, probe landings, and see first-hand what the conditions are like — athletes are constantly mulling over photographs of the “Mac Daddy” face to get familiar with the terrain and choose a line or determine a direction to head out of the start gate.

“There are two dramatically different options,” says Post. “Skier’s left is far more playful and flowy; whereas the skier’s right is more gnarly and exposed, it’s traditional big-mountain skiing. I’m pretty sure I’m headed skier’s left to get into some doubles and ski the less-exposed zone. I think the skier’s right is going to sluff super hard and with all of the new snow it is not the day I would want to ski it.”

“At this point I am doubtful rather than hopeful for Friday,” says Hinchliffe, “If I am feeling good Friday, though, I am looking at the skier’s right side of the venue, it’s exposed getting in but then there are a couple of nice features on the right side and that direction leaves a couple of options down low — a little roller or a third and fourth cliff. As far as the top, I’m looking to rip the face on the top and maybe find something to jump off.”

Deep Snow In Revelstoke photo by B. LongA skier gets deep in the fresh snow at Revelstoke. Photo: B. Long

With the merger of the North American and European tours, there are a lot of new names for fans US-based fans of big-mountain competitive skiing and snowboarding.

“The talent in men’s skiing is so deep,” says Post. “Pretty much every skier out there I’m excited to watch. There are younger guys who are super hungry and older, seasoned guys who are a little smarter. A few guys in particular are Sam Smoothy and Markus Eder, I always like watching Tabke, of course. It’s such a stacked field, it’s crazy how many really good skiers there are up here, and it’s anybody’s game.”

Hinchliffe shared his thoughts on the competition field.

“I am pretty stoked to see what Johnny Collinson is going to do out there," Hinchliffe said. "He seems to be feeling good right now, and he’s definitely not suffering from a leg injury. He’s been out there doing threes off of everything he can find. We’re on a similar wavelength. The standard Tabke show should be cool to watch, too. I’d like to see O’Meara kill it, I’m sure he will. I’m excited to see who pops up and who shines.”

Stay tuned for a recap of the comp. 

Click Here To Watch A Live Stream Of The Event

Official Start List:

Snowboard Men    
Last Name First Name Nationality Hometown
Carlson Tim USA Stevens Pass
Rodosky John USA Jackson Hole
Badoux Emilien SUI Valais Alpes
Van Helfteren Irian Holl  
Luebke Sammy USA Squaw Valley
Rizzuto Jamie CAN Fernie
Guillot-Diat Ludovic FRA Villard-de-Lans
Annetts Matt USA Jackson Hole
Charlet Jonathan FRA Chamonix
Routens Aurelien FRA La Grave
Rouge Joel SUI Alpes Vaudoises
Backstrom Ralph USA Squaw Valley
Orley Flo AUT Hochfugen
Snowboard Women    
Last Name First Name Nationality Hometown
Mouthon Anouck FRA La Clusaz
Lucas Casey USA Kirkwood
Yates Shannan USA Snowbird
Mouthon Elodie FRA La Clusaz
Rozies Margot FRA Pyrenees
Bock Aline GER Innsbruck, Arlberg
Lazzereschi Iris USA Squaw Valley
Dewey Laura USA Snowbird
Ski Men      
Last Name First Name Nationality Hometown
Slemett Leo FRA Chamonix Mont-Blanc
Lyons Charlie NZL Mt. Olympus
Kappler Ryan CAN Revelstoke
Coirier Adrien FRA Les Arcs
Heitz Jeremie SUI Les Manecottes
Gauthier Laurent CAN Whistler/Blackcomb
Hinchliffe Colter USA Aspen, CO
Salencon Nicolas ARG Bariloche
Guri Kevin FRA Les Menuires
Lindberg Willie SWE Rikgransen
Post Griffin USA Jackson Hole
Ducroz Aurelien FRA Chamonix
Chickering-Ayers Silas USA Mad River Glen, VT
Eder Markus ITA Klausberg
Smoothy Sam NZL Treble Cone
Lopez Julien FRA Tarentaise
Tabke Drew USA Crystal Mountain
Barkered Reine SWE Are, Sweden
Hausl Stefan AUT Arlberg
Michaud Seb FRA La Clusaz
Collinson John USA Alta / Snow Bird
Fornell Dani AND Ordino-Arcalis, Vallnord
Nelson Luke CAN Fernie
Ogilvie Benjamin CAN Fernie
Haunholder Matthias AUT Fieberbrunn
Daiek Josh USA Kirkwood
Bijasson Mathieu FRA La Clusaz
Collin Sean USA Squaw Valley
O’Meara Kevin USA Squaw Valley
Ski Women      
Last Name First Name Nationality Hometown
Gundersen Pia Nic NOR Anstadblaheia
Segal Natalie AUS Jackson Hole
Slinning Anne May NOR Aalesund
Wright Crystal USA Jackson Hole
Walkner Eva AUT Dachstein
Lercher Sonja CAN Blackcomb
Paaso Jackie USA Squaw Valley
Maxfield Ashley USA Jay Peak / Peak
Hargin Christine SWE Ramundberget
Wallner Nadine AUT Arlberg

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About The Author

TGR Contributor Greg Fitzsimmons

Greg grew up surfing Santa Cruz and skiing Tahoe as much as possible. After college, Fitzsimmons landed a gig at Francis Ford Coppola's literary magazine and got hooked on publishing. Fitzsimmons now tries to make rent in Aspen as a freelance writer.

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